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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 15: Safety Not Guaranteed


Nov 15: Safety Not Guaranteed

"Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel."
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow, Rated: R, 86 minutes

I'll admit, I've never been a fan of either Duplass brother. Jay and Mark both tend to make movies that try way too hard to be something special or profound, but never really delve deep enough to pull the weight. However, I've come around to Mark's acting ability (as I have become obsessed with The League) and can appreciate the comic timing and unhinged awkwardness that's become a staple in his performances. With Safety Not Guaranteed, Duplass tiptoes the line between crazy and sincere and as his motivations become clear, you really care about the guy.

Seriously, though. If you haven't watched The League yet, get on it. 

Jeff (Jake Johnson) is a writer for a magazine that's looking for some interesting stories. After a rather odd newspaper ad comes to his attention, Jeff takes Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni), two interns, with him to a small town in Washington. The ad states that a man is looking for someone to go back in time with him and that it is certainly not a joke. The trio of reporters want to investigate the man that posted the article and see if he's actually onto something or if he's just a crazy man. After Jeff fails at initiating any conversation with the man, Kenneth (Duplass), he enlists the help of Darius to 'woo' him with her womanly ways. As Darius hangs out with Kenneth more, she starts to believe that he's telling the truth and that he actually has a way to go back in time. Kenneth also claims that special agents are after him and his plans, putting himself and Darius in danger. Of course, we never know if he's telling the truth or not because the grand scale of his claims, he's hard to believe.

It's like Scooby Doo but with adult situations! And lament!

Safety Not Guaranteed tackles a ton of themes you wouldn't expect in a movie like this. A large theme is regret and the idea of chasing the past, only to change it. It's something we can all relate to, yet none of us have the motivation or intellect to build a time machine to change things. Kenneth is a troubled man and has a lot of complicated and even dishonest things about him, but he's still driven by the idea of changing the past and makes him a very relatable 'hero'. Duplass does a great job in the role and can bounce around from screaming lunatic to sympathetic oddball very smoothly. He's also very plain looking and his appearance makes you believe he's someone you could run into on the street (and go on adventure with!). Aubrey Plaza is beautiful as always and her sarcastic curiosity turns into something more as the investigation continues. She plays "I don't care about you, but kind of do" really well and is a perfect compliment to Duplass. Surprisingly, Jake Johnson gives a really good performance as Jeff. Best known for his role on The New Girl, Jake is much more tame in Safety Not Guaranteed. He's the cocky big-shot that heads to Washington for a vacation, and not actual work, but ends up reconnecting with an old flame that really opens his character up. He's just as vulnerable and obsessed with the past as Kenneth, and his subplot parallels the time travel story-line wonderfully.

Yes, Aubrey Plaza. I'd love to be your Marty McFly.

I would highly recommend Safety Not Guaranteed. It's a great little story that has a dash of science-fiction. It's never heading in a direction you'd expect and the ending is just as odd, yet lovable as the characters involved. It's a simple movie with really strong themes, and even throughout the craziness that sometimes ensues, the film is incredibly relatable. All of the main characters give great performances (some of the best of the year) and I hope that this little gem gets more love. It's one of those movies that feels genuine and real, never glossed over with Hollywood-ness, and delivers something special. Heck, who knows? Maybe next time you're browsing through your newspaper classifieds or seeing what's up on Craigslist, you might find your own bizarre little adventure. But be careful, you never know what kind of people are out there...

The Good:
three terrific performances surrounding a simple, yet beautiful little story about regret, moving on, and exploration
The Bad:
knowing that this film won't get the love and attention it deserves
The Ugly:
wondering if time traveling will ever be mastered and then wondering how many people will be lining up to change the past

Overall: 8.0/10

Discussion Question:
If you could hop into a time machine and head to the past or future, where would you go and what would you do?


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At November 15, 2012 at 8:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it goes without question where I would go and what I would do. I would go just a little bit into the past and avoided an abusive relationship.


At November 15, 2012 at 8:44 PM , Blogger Nick said...

DAVEY DOWNEY!! wha wha whaaaaaa

At November 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

Loved this film... It's just too nice...

At November 16, 2012 at 5:48 AM , Blogger Ben Hayward said...

If I could go back to the past, I'd change my university course to something more prospective. Studying film hasn't really opened many career windows!

Anyway, nice review. You have me intrigued. I've been reading bits of information about this for a while wondering whether it'll ever be released in the UK. It may go unnoticed and unwatched.

I need to see it just because I have a crush on Aubrey Plaza.

At November 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM , Blogger Brittani Burnham said...

I really enjoyed this as well! I loved that the ending "went there" so to speak. I can see it getting cult status on DVD.

At November 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM , Blogger TheVern said...

If I could go back in time, I would go back to when I first saw this movie and spend it on something else.

At November 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Plaza is sexy in her own way, so yes, you need to see it.

At November 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah I was surprised as well!

At November 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Haters gonna hate.

At November 18, 2012 at 4:35 PM , Anonymous Austin said...

I quite enjoyed this movie too. If I could go anywhere, I would pick the year 2112 to see how the world is in 100 years. I wonder how much will have changed.

At November 18, 2012 at 4:41 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Let's go to the fuuuuuuutuuuuurreeeeee.

At November 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was thinking of seeing this, and now i'm sure i will. i love the premise. my only concern is this - is it one of those "found footage" films? i hate those, where it's supposed to look like it's been pieced together from various video feeds, like cell phones and such. those things piss me off. the only one that's ever worked was "the blair witch project."

At November 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM , Blogger Nick said...

it's definitely not found footage, thank God. it's multi-camera regular old awesome.


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